As Obama prepares to ambush Israel what will American Jews do?

The idea that building 98 additional houses in Shiloh constitutes some kind of international crisis is, of course absurd.

Att'y Stephen M. Flatow,

OpEds Steve Flatow
Steve Flatow

It's what they call the Old One-Two Punch. On Wednesday, the Obama administration issued a blistering denunciation of Israel. Within forty-eight hours, the New York Times published a front-page news story intended to blow it up into a big issue, and then a half-page unsigned editorial urging the administration to orchestrate an anti-Israel resolution at the United Nations.

And the Times garnished its editorial with a political cartoon--something that does not usually appear alongside an unsigned editorial--depicting a giant, menacing hand plunking down a huge (Jewish) house among little tiny (Arab) houses.

What was this extraordinarily important international development that warranted so much attention from the U.S. government and the New York Times?

It was Israel's decision to build 98 houses in an existing Jewish settlement, for residents of another settlement that the Obama administration and New York Times want Israel to tear down. The houses would be built in the community of Shiloh, which was established, on state land, nearly forty years ago. Shiloh, it should be noted, has been supported by both Likud and Labor governments.

The idea that building 98 additional houses in Shiloh constitutes some kind of international crisis is, of course absurd. Not a single Palestinian will be harmed by the homes. Not a single Palestinian will be displaced. The only reason to be troubled by the 98 homes is if you are one of those whose goal is to expel every Jew from the areas you want to turn into a Palestinian state. That, of course, is the goal of the Palestinian Authority. Do the Obama administration and the New York Times share that goal?

During the days since Obama and the Times manufactured this phony "crisis," here are a few examples of other international developments that the Obama administration said nothing about:

-- Amnesty International reported that the Sudanese Arab government has massacred hundreds of blacks in Darfur with chemical weapons.

-- A terrorist stabbed two police officers in Brussels. The authorities, who identified the stabber as "Hicham D.," and his brother as "Aboubaker D," said "We have reason to believe that it is terror-related."

-- The Chinese government "persuaded" Thailand to refuse entry to a leader of the 2014 Hong Kong democracy protests.

Mass murder?  Islamist terror?  Chinese totalitarian interference in other countries' affairs?  Apparently such things are far less important than a handful of Jewish houses in Shiloh.

Some Israeli officials have been quoted in news media reports as warning that the Obama administration's Shiloh Derangement Syndrome (my term, not theirs) is an attempt to pave the way for the president to take one last parting shot at Israel.

Apparently President Obama's idea is to wait until after the election, and then propose a UN resolution along the lines of what the New York Times is recommending--demanding that Israel retreat to the indefensible pre-1967 armistice lines and permit creation of a Palestinian state in the surrendered territories. As we all know, Israel would then be nine miles wide at its midsection. That's less than half the width of Washington, D.C., by the way.

Of course, a UN resolution is not exactly the end of the world. The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in 1975 branding Zionism as racism. Israel did not then declare itself racist and go out of existence. It simply rejected the resolution and ignored it. Time passed, and eventually--sixteen years later--enough countries came to their senses to repeal that resolution.

Still, an Obama-UN resolution would be damaging. It would promote the process of branding Israel a pariah. It would dishearten Israel's friends and potential friends. It would add to the pressure on Israel to make dangerous, one-sided concessions; and one can never be sure that every future Israeli government will have the wherewithal to resist such pressure. So this is an ambush that must be combated.

An ambush, by definition, is a surprise attack. Since President Obama's plan to ambush Israel after the election is becoming one of the worst-kept secrets in Washington, it hardly even qualifies as an ambush any longer.

But that is no reason for friends of Israel to let down their guard. On the contrary--since we know that the ambush is coming, we can pre-empt it with all the protest methods that American Jews have learned well over the years: rallies, lobbying, letters to the White House, and more. We know what to do. So let's do it.

(Stephen M. Flatow, an attorney in New Jersey, is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in a Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.)